***This article is inspired by chapter 4 of John C. Maxwell’s book
“Developing the Leader Within You 2.0” – “The Ultimate Test of Leadership:
Creating Positive Change.”***
I’ve heard it said that the only people who like change are babies. In my experience, there is much truth to that statement. Even when change is positive it disrupts the status quo and makes people feel nervous or unsettled.
To be a leader worth following, you need to learn how to create positive change with the big picture in mind while also helping your followers navigate the emotions of what the change will bring. How can you do this?
Consider the following 8 steps to “plan ahead” that John C. Maxwell has taught and implemented over his 40+ years of leadership experience:
P – Predetermine the change that is needed
Change for change’s sake isn’t very productive nor is it well-received. If there is a problem to solve, what change needs to occur? If things are going well, what can you do to build upon your momentum? Leaders need to be strategic to determine what can or should change. Change can be a response to negative circumstances, but you can also use it wisely to go farther faster.
L – Lay out your steps
Once you have identified the needed changes or the opportunities for growth, develop an action plan that will guide your followers. When the steps are clear, it is easier for people to get on board and follow you on the journey.
A – Adjust your priorities
When you make changes, your priorities must change. You cannot effectively continue on with “business as usual” while also tackling change initiatives. What must you STOP doing so that you can implement your action plan for change? What must you START doing that needs to become a high priority?
N – Notify key people
Communication is a struggle in all organizations to some extent. When you are preparing for change, it is not only wise but critical to inform your key followers who are responsible for leading others. Start with a few to get them on board, then disseminate the message throughout the organization through them.
A – Allow time for acceptance
One mistake leaders can make is to assume that people will instantly adopt change. This rarely happens. Consider that leaders are often discussing and processing change for quite some time before it becomes official for others to hear. Don’t forget that what is old news for you is breaking news to your people. Give them time to process the information, ask questions, and get on board.
H – Head into action
Once you have taken the above steps, it is time to act. Begin taking the steps that you’ve laid out. Begin moving so momentum can kick in. Remember, it’s virtually impossible to steer a parked car, but once it gets rolling you can easily make adjustments.
E – Expect problems
No matter how well you plan and forecast, problems will arise. I once read that former Army General Colin Powell chose to act when he was 60-70% sure that the decision would work? Why would he act with such a low certainty percentage? He understood that you will never be 100% sure of what will work and it’s better to get started. Problems will arise, then you can address them accordingly.
A – Always point to the successes
When your followers are buried in the day-to-day “weeds” it is often difficult to feel or see the successes of the change plan. As a leader, you must communicate the successes consistently. I equate this to parents being unable to see the continual growth of their children because they see them daily. However, those who see them less frequently can see exponential growth. The same is true with your followers. Point out the successes so they don’t become discouraged in the daily mundane routine.
D – Daily review your progress
Leaders are the project managers for change. You must review your progress each day and make adjustments as needed. If something seems to be working very well, do more of that. If something isn’t working, find a new way to accomplish your goal. Leaders must maintain focus during the change process as no one else will.
While change can be difficult for any team or organization, it is one key reason that we need leaders. Work through these 8 “plan ahead” steps and watch how far you can lead your followers and grow your organization.
Until next time…make today GREAT!
By the way, if you need guidance in your personal life or want to take your leadership to the next level, click HERE to learn more about my personal and executive coaching services.